Is it natural?  Indeed.  Is it legal?  Many forms of it are.  Several are not. When we get high, our bodies release endorphins, natural pain and stress fighters that release a positive feeling in the body.  It feels awesome.  Endorphins are natural pain killers and they also control a lot of feelings, appetites, and addictive patterns.  You can read up on those later.

    I think most of you are aware of my viewpoint on illegal drug and alcohol use: put off all decisions on use until the ripe young age of 21, by which point your pre-frontal cortex (instrumental in decision making and moderating social behavior) will be close to fully developed and your decision making skills will be honed from some years of experience.  Then have a discussion with your parents about your reasons you may want to try these substances.  Odds are:  many of you will be happy to forego some of the more harmful substances, as you will have a bit of wisdom by that age.  You also will be far less likely to become addicted to any one substance, as your physical development will have come to fruition as well. For exact odds, feel free to read Clean by David Sheff (soon to be synopsized on my book recommendations page).

    We live in a community that has a huge problem with illegal substance use and abuse and I do not take that lightly.  However, I am not going to focus on that in this particular article (although resources are listed at the bottom).

    The purpose of this piece of writing is to get you to start thinking of getting high as a natural, legal and positive thing you can do for yourself every day, in your own unique way.  When you are low on endorphins, you are more likely to feel anxious, stressed out and unable to enjoy life fully.  That’s not my goal for you.  I want you to feel calm, balanced, challenged and joyful.  So I’m going to share a bunch of ways to get high naturally, legally and mostly (but not all) risk free.


    Hiking up the hills in Marin – what a rush!  When you make it to the top of Mt Tam or Baldy at a fast pace, then spin in a circle and admire the view - Wow!  Not many things feel better.  And the rest of the hike is a relaxing downhill stroll.

    Rowing at a fast clip to my favorite Netflix series.  I rowed through all of Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights last summer.  I must have rowed 100 miles in 6 weeks.  Great for my body, maybe a bit mushy for my mind, but a great high nonetheless.

    Sudoku!  Yes indeed, throwing down those numbers 1-9 when the puzzle is challenging and I am racing against the clock is a great way to stimulate my mind, and get those endorphins flowing.

    Jigsaw puzzling – this may be the one high of mine that is truly addictive.  I can stay up half the night, until my eyes are red and I’ve drank all the mint tea in the house.  But I just love putting that last piece into the puzzle.  Lily says this is nerdy, but I think it is super fun!

    Dancing - in my house only, as there are no rules on the dance moves allowed in my living room!

    Watching stand-up comedy.  I save a bunch of great stand-up routines (Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, etc.) for those days when I need some deep belly laughs.  Good for endorphins and my abs.

    Hanging out with friends.  Yes, being around people you care about and who care for you is a great way to share life’s joys, and release some of the good chemicals to your brain.  Social connection is super fun.

    Being a high school counselor!  Are you kidding me?  Not at all.  It is exciting when students come into my office, tensions palpable, tears flowing from the latest tragedy with a project, a friend, a family member, or anger exuding from their pores from a recent slight.  Supporting you through your trials and tribulations and talking you through your traumas gives me great joy and satisfaction, a natural high for certain.  There is no greater feeling of accomplishment for me than watching you leave my office, heart rate lowered to normal, breathing quietly, face aglow in a smile of victory, as you stride boldly back into the fray of this wild storm we call adolescence.


    Playing the drums (or violin or clarinet) until the piece is so smooth in your mind and your soul is ready to burst.

    Doing Trapeze and aerial silks with a group of friends. 

    Rock climbing in Yosemite.  It is a rush to forge a path up the maze of a sheer rock face.

    Running the Dipsea, throwing caution and running shoes to the wind, and diving into the ocean at Stinson Beach!

    Playing Monopoly (or other games, try Twister!) until the wee hours of the night.  Do pass go.  Do collect $200.

    Building robotics and programming them to do crazy stunts.  Involving fireworks to blow them up seems to add flare to these events.

    Playing in timed chess tournaments – called rapidplay, where you only get 30 minutes for all your moves.  It is exciting, challenging, and little nerve racking (even to watch).

    Mountain biking or running cross country.  Have you seen these folks cruising past you on a trail?  There is a rush of wind and a trail of dust in their paths, and they all seem about as high on life and happy as any group of teens I have ever encountered.

    Designing and making jewelry or works of art – the intensity of thought and creativity required to design and create art can be exhausting and exhilarating.  Ask any artist you know.

    Eating dark chocolate.  Seriously?  Yes, in moderation, it is both yummy, good for your brain and feels a lot like falling in love.  Has to be dark chocolate, though.

    Community service.  Get out?  No, really, so many students do amazing acts of kindness and compassion in this community, resulting in a “helper’s high.”  Try it and feel the buzz from generosity and being kind to others.

    Singing at home, alone.  Sing when you takes a break from homework; it feels great and releases stress.


    Swimming - in the natural Marin waters - in cooler days even a short invigorating dip will make you tingle with bliss!

    Surfing - lots of adults and kids get super high on the wave!

    Kayaking - aaaaahwesome, nothing like the magice of Tomales Bay or Drakes Estero...

    Yoga - can be done at home at no cost.  Just light the candle and put some music on, in a few stretches you will start tripping high on the bliss of being who you were always meant to be.

    Love the chocolate, especially cacao ceremonies (in Europe dark chocolate is the new rave thing - forget dangerous E!)

    Drum circles - get into the rhythm with people you love and lose yourself in the magic.

    Dancing - you are never too old to get your groove on.  There are so many options: Five Rhythms, Dance Medicine, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip hop ... even Bollywood!

    Was I high when I wrote this?  You bet your hiking boots.  I had just returned from a breezy 3.5 mile hike next to a beautiful Marin marshland.  Some of my happiest moments (when I have time to reflect on how much I enjoy life, my work with students, and my health) come when I am hiking alone.

    Now, think up your own ways to get high (legally) and share them with your family, your friends and me!


    For those of you who have decided to experiment/use illegal substances or have someone in your family who does, here are some resources/supports available in our area.

    Huckleberry Youth Programs:  They will be on the Drake campus this year to provide 1:1 and group counseling, as well as provide parent consultations and referrals.

    Ross Valley Healthy Community Collaborative (RVHCC): Join this parent advocacy group and make a difference in the lives of your student and your community.  If nothing else, go there regularly and read the articles about raising successful young adults.

    Drake Wellness:  This site is full of terrific resources for students and parents about a wide variety of teen issues, including drug and alcohol use.

    Read Clean, by David Sheff.  He is a former Drake parent and knows about the world of addiction firsthand.  This book is a very helpful tool, which clarifies substance use through the lens of illness (not criminality).



    Last Updated by Sheila Souder on 10/31/2017.